Ex Strada Provinciale 84, km 27, 66018 Taranta Peligna CH.
Near Lama dei Peligni, Chieti, Abruzzo. 46 km south of Pescara.
A14 (E55) exit Fossacesia/Fossacesia Marina. SS652 west towards Napoli/Casoli 16 km, turn right at Piane d'Archi towards Casoli/Pescara onto SS154 for 1 km then left on SS84. After 6 km at the roundabout take first exit SS81, after 1.3 km at Contrada Collelungo turn left. Follow this road 6.6 km to SS263, turn left, after 7.5 km turn right on SS84, 5.5 km to the cable car. (46 km, 50 minutes)
Alternative route: At roundabout take second exit SS84 along Lago Di Sant'Angelo, and through Lama Dei Peligni (46 km, 50 minutes)
Cable car at the road half way between Lama Dei Peligni and Palena. From upper station follow path to the cliff side, well developed stairs with roof (against falling rocks) to the cave entrance 175 steps.
JUN Sat, Sun 9-18, last entry 16.
JUL to AUG daily 9-18, last entry 16.
SEP Sat, Sun 9-18, last entry 16.
Adults EUR 20, Children (6-17) EUR 15, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (25+): Adults EUR 15.
Ticket includes cave tour and cable car return ticket.
Museo delle Grotte: Adults EUR 3, Children EUR 2.
|Classification:||Karst cave cave with a view..|
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Dimension:||A=1425 m asl, L=1360 m, T=10 °C, H=96 %.|
|Guided tours:||L=1000 m, D=1 h.|
Coop. Majella, Museum nat. Arch. "M. Locati", Lama dei Peligni (Ch), Tel: +39-0872-916067.
Grotta del Cavallone, SS84, 66018 Taranta Peligna CH, Cell: +39-329-157-0466, Tel: +39-0872-910203. E-mail:
Municipality of Taranta Peligna, Piazza Municipio n. 5 - 66018 Taranta Peligna CH, Tel: +39-0872-910118.
Museo delle Grotte, 66018 Taranta Peligna CH, Tel: +39-0872-910118.
Cavallone Informa Museo Speleologico, Parco "La Ripa", Via Castello, 4, 66010 Lama dei Peligni CH, Tel: +39-0872-91221.
Parco Fluviale delle Acquevive, Via Gabriele D'Annunzio, 66018 Taranta Peligna CH, Tel: +39-388-8919010.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1666||oldest inscription at the cave entrance.|
|1704||official discovery by a doctor from Lamam although cave was known by shepherds who moved along the Maiella with their flocks for most of the year.|
|1893||visited by the chancellor of the District Court Alessandro De Lucia.|
|1894||Società del Cavallone e del Bue (Company of Cavallone and Bue) established for the touristic exploitation of the cave, stairs to the entrance built.|
|1904||cave mentioned in the tragedy in three acts The Daughter of Iorio by Gabriele D'Annunzio.|
|1907||survey by the speleologist Vittorio Bertarelli.|
|1912||explored by the geologist and spelelologist De Gasperi.|
|1913||paleontological research by the archaeologist Ugo Rabbi.|
|1943||German troops destroyed the small villages at the Maiella in retaliation and the inhabitants of Taranta Peligna hid in the cave for over a month.|
|1948||begin of systematic speleological exploration by the Italian Speleological Society and other caving groups.|
|1949||excursion to the cave during the National Congress of Speleology (Chieti).|
|1978||Cavallone-Colle Rotondo two-seater basket lift opened to the public, electric light.|
|1990||Area Faunistica Camoscio established.|
|2018||basket lift and cave closed for renovation.|
|06-AUG-2022||cave reopened after renovation.|
The Grotta del Cavallone (Horse Cave) is probably the most exceptional cave with a view in Italy. Located in the middle of the country, south of Paescara and about the same latitude as Rome, only a few kilometers from the coast with the freeway and all the tourism, it is secluded in a remote valley and surrounded by steep and rocky mountains. The area is really alpine, there is even a cable car which is used to get to the cave. In old guidebooks the way to the cave is described to be a several kilometers long walk from Lama, the next town. Some also talk of several kilometers of bad road which are only possible with a 4WD. Today it's just a normal paved two-lane road, about 50 minutes drive from the coastal freeway, and a ride with the cable car.
The mountain massif Majella is one of the most beautiful and most impressive parts of the Abruzzi mountains. It is also called the Madre delle Montagne (Mother of the Mountains). The whole area is protected by the Parco Nazionale della Majella. It is known for its population of eagles. Popular among climbers and mountaineers, it is also a weekend destination for Romans. But the center of the park is not developed and there are virtually no roads inside.
The mountain side right above Lama looks like a stranded whale, a huge layer of sloping limestone, falling with approximately 45°, with Lama located on the lower end. From Lama a rather new road leads up the valley on the right hand side, cut right into the middle of this slope. After some kilometers, there is a valley or gorge in the flank of the mountain, and a turnoff leads to a cable car. This cable car brings mountaineers up to the numerous trails of the park and cave visitors to the cave.
The Cavallone-Colle Rotondo is a cestovia, a basket lift, which went into operation in 1978. This is a type of lift where a round basket with an iron bar railing allows two people standing. This type of lift was quite common in Italian skiing areas, but today this is one of the last 40 still active in Europe. Over the years they were replaced by modern chairlifts. The lower station is located at 763 m asl, the upper station at 1388 m asl. The ride takes about 20 minutes. Normally the lift runs continually, but if there are not enough guests, it runs only for some time every hour, which is synchronized with the times of the cave tours. The basket lift was modernized in 2018.
The ride on the open cable car is rather impressive. To the northwest, where the lift is going to, is a high massive of limestone cliffs, to the southeast a much lower hill country. On the foot of the mountain is a deep valley with some villages built on top of hills. Both sides of the side valley where the cable car is built in, are of limestone, full of caves. At the end of the ride, you can see the huge entrance of the Grotta del Cavallone on the right side. The upper station of the cable car contains a small restaurant and café with an impressive view from the veranda. Here a very good track, almost a single lane road starts. It leads to the foot of the cliff below the cave. From there a roofed flight of stairs with 175 steps leads up to the cave entrance. Located at 1,425 m asl, it is said to be the highest entrance of a show cave in Europe. This is actually not correct, for example the Eisriesenwelt in Austria is 200 m higher, but nevertheless it is more impressive as it allows a view to the Mediterranean Sea.
This cave is quite impressive, and we recommend it very much. But we have to say some words about the problems of a cave visit. The whole trip, driving on narrow roads, riding the cable car and walking to the cave takes some time. Probably you should plan a nice one-day trip and spend some time on the trails around the cave too. The cave visit is not suitable for old people or people with ill health. There is the height difference, a lot of walking and the trails in and outside the cave are a bit rough, typical for trails in high mountain areas. Appropriate clothes, especially good walking shoes, are much recommended. Also, the cable car and cave are closed during winter and bad weather, for obvious reasons. Under Alpine conditions the weather may change rather fast so bring not only sun protection but also a raincoat. The cave is cool compared to other Italian caves and a sweater or fleece a good idea.
But now for the cave itself. It starts with a huge entrance hall, a portal right in the middle of a cliff face. Known for a long time, difficult to access, it impressed visitors for centuries. Here the visitors wait for the guide enjoying the breathtaking view or just resting from the strenuous ascent. Numerous balconies with some explanatory signs about the National Park and its nature (only in Italian unfortunately) lead up to the highest point of the cave. The portal has a shape resembling the profile of a horse, hence the name Grotta del Cavallone (Horse Cave). However, others say it's the view from the cable car, the entrance to the cave marks the horse's eye and the rock face has a shape which resembles its muzzle. From the highest point of the entrance hall the tour starts. The cave narrows as soon as weathering from outside has no more influence, but the passage is still impressive, being 10 to 20 m wide and nearly the same height all the time. The visitors are equipped with helmets, which is obviously nonsense due to the high ceiling, but it seems to be part of the experience. There are numerous speleothems, but most of them are on the floor, stalagmites, flowstone and rimstone pools. The speleothems on walls and ceiling are rather small and sparse. The main passage goes up and down all the time, there are several pits, one is even a sort of shaft which must be crossed. On our visit  the path went down into all those pits and back up on the other side, but the bridges which cross the pits where already half assembled. As there is no second exit, the tour has to go back the same way and cross all those pits a second time.
The cave was discovered by shepherds who moved along the Maiella with their flocks for most of the year, and at the entrance the year 1666 is engraved. But the official discovery in 1704 was made by the doctor Jacinto de Simeonibus from Lama and D.A. Franceschelli. In 1894 the Società delle Grotte del Cavallone e del Bue (Company of Cavallone and Bue Caves) was established for the touristic exploitation of the cave. The cave was accessed abseiling with ropes from above until then, but the company built the staircase to the entrance. Then wooden stairs were built inside and a guide service was organized. The visitors had to walk up to the cave, or ride on a mule. But downhill they could use a treggia, a wooden sled which was mainly used to transport timber. It was carried up on mules or on the shoulder and then pulled down along the gravel road.
Gabriele D'Annunzio used the cave as scene for the first act of his tragedy Figlia di Jorio. The tragedy was published in 1904 and tells the story of Jorios daughter Mila, who was considered a witch and driven out of the community. Aligi, shepherd, son of Lazarus, wanted to defend her, but to save Aligi, Mila takes full responsibility and is condemned to the stake. They flee to a refuge. The painter Paolo Michetti took care of the scenography of the tragedy and used the Grotta del Cavallone for the refuge. As a result the cave became also known as Grotta della Figlia di Jorio.
During the Second World War the Cavallone and Bovo caves were a refuge for the inhabitants of Taranta Peligna. The German troops destroyed the small villages at the Maiella in Autumn 1943 in retaliation. Many inhabitants of Taranta Peligna, mostly women and children together with many animals, remained hidden in the cave for over a month. The constant temperature inside the cave allowed them to survive the harsh winter temperatures. The men stayed in the Bove Cave which was more exposed to attacks due to easier access.
The development of the cave includes rather rough paths, concrete steps and iron bridges. The older wooden bridges and stairs can still be seen. The cave has electric light, which is from the 1990s and quite good. The cave was developed for decades, but there are still some parts, especially at the end, where visitors walk on rough trails or even on flowstone. With the cable car the number of visitor increased continually since 1978 and so the cave was developed to accommodate the demand, but also to protect the cave. Unfortunately the number of visitors to show caves decreases since the 1990, and so it was necessary to organize a credit for a million Euro in 2017 for necessary maintenance work at the cable car. However, the modernization of the cave trails was finally completed in 2022 and reopened after four years of closure.
Nearby is also the karst spring Sorgenti Acquevive, the spring of the water of life. It is located at the Parco Fluviale delle Acquevive (River Park of Acquevive). In the historic center of Taranta Peligna is the Museo delle Grotte (Caves Museum), with a virtual tour of the Grotte del Cavallone. It is located in the cellars of the ancient Palazzo Malvezzi. The four rooms have the topics Majella National Park, minerals and speleothems, video room, and virtual cave. The virtul cave is air-conditioned to cave temperature and humidity, which is a funny idea. At Lama there is a Museo Speleologico (Speleological Museum) about all caves in the area. It is a so-called Info Point located in a small artificial cave called "La Ripa". As a sort of tourist info it offers brochures and there is no entrance fee.